The Humanitarian Times

April 8, 1999

 

- INDONESIAN SUPPORT GROWS FOR PARAMILITARY VIOLENCE IN E.TIMOR, reflected by killing of 40 persons April 6. Indonesia appears to promote conflict in Timor to undermine July’s vote on self- determination. Also, as the military hoards rice stocks & as the mainland delays rice shipments, a food crisis is feared.

- ANGOLA CRISIS DISPLACES 700,000; RECENT FIGHTING KILLS 10,000, as govt & UNITA rebel forces fight for key provincial capitals of Malanje, Huambo and Kuito & landmines are being newly planted. With funds from diamond sales, UNITA rebels have recently obtained tanks, aircraft, helicopters & other heavy weaponry from Ukraine & N.Korea, changing the character of the war from hit-and-run to full battles. Agricultural output is projected to be 25% below normal.

- DISPLACED KOSOVARS RECEIVE HISTORIC LEVEL OF ATTENTION by aid agencies, the military & the media, as Serbs continue to burn their homes & villages. In Macedonia, 10-25,000 Kosovars are still missing & unaccounted for, of those trapped along the border earlier this week. French relief group MSF criticized the Macedonian govt for not permitting NGOs access to the refugees. Today reports confirm that Macedonia has forcibly bussed at least 14,000 Kosovars out of Macedonia & into Albania. Yesterday, Serbs closed & began laying landmines along the Morini (Albania/Kosovo) border across which most refugees had passed.

- INADEQUATE SANITATION (LATRINES) & WATER SUPPLY FOR KOSOVARS are the main problems reported by health experts in the large refugee holding areas. Catholic Relief Services and the Adventist Development & Relief Agency are distributing food to refugees in Albania. Catholic Relief Services has converted a community center into a Refugee Information Center in Albania's capital city of Tirana. NATO, UNHCR & various NGOs each assert leadership over operations, while key efforts have been by the host govts. NGOs report that the host Albanians have done a remarkable job of moving 300,000 refugees away from the border & into southern areas within Albania where they can be cared for.

- FAMILIES WRENCHED APART EN ROUTE TO ASYLUM FROM KOSOVO; Reporting from the Albanian border, Relief International says, "One of the most shocking things is that the refugees are mostly just women & children. In almost every case the refugees tell of 10-20 people in each village being executed publicly to alarm the others to leave as fast as possible. Men & young boys were being separated. Women say they hope their husbands & sons are OK yet you see the absence of real hope, & unfortunately you know to encourage the hope is not in line with recent history, & an eerie silence follows these encounters." The Serbs have destroyed evidence of the Kosovars having ever lived in Kosovo - burning passports, identification cards and even confiscating license plates off vehicles. Refugees corroborate tales of massacres this week in SW Kosovo.

- KOSOVAR RESETTLEMENT BEGINS: TO NORWAY, TURKEY, GUANTANAMO. Half the population of Kosovo is now displaced. At a high-level one-day Geneva summit of the donor Humanitarian Issues Working Group, UNHCR head Madame Ogata asked countries to accept Kosovar refugees on an "exceptional & temporary basis." However, EC Humanitarian Commissioner Emma Bonino (from Italy) argued this week that to move some refugees to holding camps in distant countries is impractical, inefficient, & gives a false sense of victory to the Serbs. The US Govt plans to begin moving Kosovars later this week to the Guantanamo military on the Cuba island. Earlier in the 90’s, the US came under criticism from NGOs & UN for indefinitely housing Haitian & Cuban refugees in the prison- like setting at Guantanamo where they, too, were kept away from US soil in order to prevent any claims of asylum.

- RELIGIOUS LEADERS CALL FOR AN END TO KOSOVO FIGHTING. The leaders of the World Council of Churches, along with the Conference of European Churches, and the US Church World Service & Witness, & Lutheran World Federation openly called on NATO to stop the bombing campaign. Last weekend, Pope John Paul II called for a truce, and a ‘humanitarian corridor’ for the displaced inside Kosovo.

- DEBATE OVER GENOCIDE DEFINITION RENEWED OVER KOSOVO. The 1951 Genocide Convention focuses on large-scale population killing, but no intl. convention yet deals specifically with lesser-scale massacres. In Kosovo, human rights violations & political killings do not now constitute "genocide," argue many analysts, including Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who, writing in Newsweek, supports NATO intervention: "Faced with Milosevic’s ethnic cleansing, no self-respecting nation could knowingly violate the Biblical injunction 'thou shall not stand idly by.'"

- BURMA REGIME SLOW TO ACKNOWLEDGE SPREAD OF HIV/AIDS. UN AIDS program head Dr. Peter Piot announced that the regime ruling Burma is unwilling & perhaps incapable of handling the escalating crisis of HIV infection (prevalence estimated at 440,000) inside Burma.

 

MEETINGS AND NETWORKS

 

- HUMANITARIAN STANDARDS NEWSLETTER FROM THE SPHERE PROJECT circulated by email; if interested contact: sphereatifrc.org

- LANDMINE SYMPOSIUM TUESDAY FINDS FUNDING SHORTFALL. April 6 meeting, "Landmines: Clearing the Path, Empowering the Victims" hosted by the Center for the Global South, gave evidence that donors are not fulfilling on funding commitments for landmine victim assistance & for demining, or the funds are being largely absorbed by donor bureaucracies (like the US military).

- PSYCHO-SOCIAL DISABILITIES IN LARGE EMERGENCIES CAN BE REDUCED with community-based programs and use of local populations as buffers during post-conflict reintegration: was among the findings from an international Symposium hosted by the American Red Cross March 18/19. Proceedings are being developed by co-sponsors Columbia & Tulane Univ Schools of Public Health; contact: mwf15atcolumbia.edu or lsnideratmailhost.tcs.tulane.edu

- NETWORK: INTL SOCIETY OF STRESS STUDIES (ISSS) SHARE INFO about treatment of psychological trauma as well as PTSD’s relevance to human rights, journalism & the work of the UN. Nov 99 Conference planned. See: http://www.istss.org

- ENVIRONMENT & DISASTERS WORKSHOP WAS HELD BY GREEN-CROSS March 16, to train NGOs on lessons of 3-year conservation project & expand the EU-funded Environmental Response Network. Contact: greencrossatkingston.ac.uk

- UPCOMING "HAGUE APPEAL FOR PEACE" CONFERENCE, MAY 11-15 in The Netherlands will include some 1,000 organizations to discuss an agenda to end war and construct a culture of peace.Cases such as Azerbaijan will be reviewed. Contact: IALANA, The Hague, Fax: 31 70 345 6567, or WFM/New York: 212 599 1332.

- UPCOMING ALL-AFRICA CONF. SEEKS TO PREVENT CHILD SOLDIERS, by enforcing national laws against under-18 conscription, to be held April 19-22, in Maputo, organized by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, which includes Amnesty Intl, Defense for Children International, Human Rights Watch, Intl Federation Terre des Hommes, Intl Save the Children Alliance, Jesuit Refugee Service, & Quakers United Nations Office; in coordination with UNICEF and the Red Cross. Contact: officeatunicef.uem.mz

 

TRAINING FOR HUMANITARIAN AID WORK

 

Building on courses pioneered by Liverpool Univ. and Medecins sans Frontieres, a range of new courses have been developed in recent years to convey core skills needed in the provision of humanitarian aid -

- NEW WEB-BASED CATALOGUE ON HUMANITARIAN AID TRAINING MATERIALS is by Johns Hopkins Univ.: www.jhsph.edu/research/emergencies

- "PUBLIC HEALTH IN COMPLEX EMERGENCIES" COLUMBIA UNIV COURSE (sponsored by USAID/OFDA), geared to NGO health professionals, will be offered June 13-26 outside New York City, & in Aug in Uganda. This course is best suited for health professionals who are working in the field. Contact Sharon Kim: ssk19atcolumbia.edu or fax: (212) 305-7024.

- "ACT GLOBALLY; TRAIN LOCALLY" - JOINT NGO STAFF TRAINING for refugee & emergency preparedness & relief, will be topic of discussion June 16, in Wash DC, in a meeting coordinated by InterWorks and linked to certification from the University ofWisconsin (Disaster Management Training Ctr). This meeting builds on a successful NGO meeting held in March in Calif. whereby NGOs worked with InterWorks to arrange professional, cost-effective & tailored staff training. Contact: Dufresneatinterworksmadison.com

- "HEALTH EMERGENCIES IN LARGE EMERGENCIES" (H.E.L.P.) COURSE developed by the Intl. Comm. Of the Red Cross (ICRC) will be offered in Montreal/Canada in May, in Sweden in Sept., and South Africa, Mexico, & West Africa later in 99. Since its inception in 1986 the HELP course has trained over 500 professionals, from 91 countries. Contact: pperrin.gvaaticrc.org

- H.E.L.P. EMERGENCY HEALTH SKILLS PROMOTED FOR NGO STAFF, via 3-week summer course put on by public health schools of Univ. of Honolulu (contact: Lyncheatwebsite.tamc.amedd.army.mil) from July 19-August 6, and in early July in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins Univ. (contact: Gburnhamatphnet.sph.jhu.edu).

- "WORKING IN LONG-TERM CONFLICT - THE ORGANIZATIONAL CHALLENGE" course will be offered October 25-29 in Oxford UK by INTRAC (Intl NGO Training & Research Centre), reviewing war economics, humanitarian principles and institution building. Contact: intracatgn.apc.org or see: http://www.intrac.org.

- RED-R TRAINS FIELD STAFF IN ENGLAND IN TECHNICAL RELIEF SKILLS including refugee relief (June 25-30), water supply (July 15-18), & related mechanical work. Contact: kirstienatredr.demon.co.uk

- MULTI-DISCIPLINE MASTERS IN HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE has been offered for several years under the EC-sponsored NOAH graduate program, offered across a network of European univ's: Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Bochum, Deusto-Bilbao, Aix-Marseilles III, Dublin, Roma and Uppsala.

- DISASTER THEORY AND PRACTICE TAUGHT AT CRANFIELD UNIV. in the Disaster Management Course offered by Cranfield Disaster Management Ctr July 27-Aug 26, Shrivenham UK. "aimed at those with or anticipating disaster management responsibilities who may wish to improve their working knowledge of theory and practice."

- TUFTS UNIV. OFFERS NEW MASTERS DEGREE FOR MID-CAREER HUM. WORK, a joint program with the School of Nutrition and the Fletcher School of Law/Diplomacy. Contact: ggambaatinfonet.tufts.edu.

- WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION OFFERS COURSE ON HEALTH RISK Management for emergencies; Contact: OMS.tunisieatrns.tn.

- A DIPLOMA COURSE IN INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN AID has been piloted in Dublin, Geneva and NYC, with a diverse faculty of UN experts, and is planned to be repeated again this year. Fax: Cent Intl Health & Cooperation, 212 434 2479.

- NEW WORLD BANK TRAINING COURSE ON POST-CONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION runs April 13-15 in WashDC, reviewing wide range of program issues in war-to-peace transition, Targeted to World Bank staff. Contact: mdanielsatworldbank.org.

 

REVIEWS

 

- "RETHINKING THE TRAUMA OF WAR," SAVE THE CHILDREN EXPERIENCE, (by P Bracken and C. Petty 1998 London: Free Association Books) presents a range of field experiences with combatants, separated families and rape victims caught in complex emergencies. The various contributors dispute Western-based views about trauma (and PTSD in particular) as appropriate guides in other cultures & challenge clinically oriented approaches. "Rethinking the trauma of war means a shift away from projects targeted at individuals, or specific groups of victims such as child soldiers or victims of rape" & toward community-based healing that incorporates justice, listening, & rebuilding social structures that can renew meaning for living.

- NEW BOOK BY HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH FINDS SYSTEMATIC CHILD ABUSE, in "Abandoned to the State: Cruelty and Neglect in Russian Orphanage" (Kathleen Hunt 1999, New York), observing 200,000 children trapped in an "archipelago of grim state institutions, (where) the authorities of the Russian Federation are violating the fundamental rights o tens of thousands of innocent citizens: children abandoned to state orphanages." Citing discrimination that violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child, HRW calls on Russia to stop pressing parents to institutionalize newborns with disabilities, stop applying the diagnosis of ‘mentally retarded’ and "debunk the myth that abandoned children automatically inherit physical, mental abnormalities & behavioral patterns such as criminality."

- NEW BOOK: "COLLISION & COLLUSION, WESTERN AID TO E. EUROPE" (by Janine Wedel 1998 NY: St. Martins Press) reviews the post- 1989 wave of over $100 billion western aid to Poland, Russia & other Eastern Bloc countries, most of which was for democracy & private enterprise, & over 90% came not as grants but in the form of technical assistance, loans and export credits. Wedel finds that during the course of the 1990s the donors & recipients adjusted to accommodate each other, except Russia which resisted. "The pervasive distrust of foreigners & officialdom, the power of the old elite, and the persistence of established relationships & mentalities could not be eliminated as easily as the ubiquitous statues of Lenin... Western donors seemed to be caught in a paradox: to achieve their stated reform goals (pluralism, civil society & democracy) they selected and promoted specific political groups; but this strategy seemed to help narrow rather than widen the range of participation."

- RECENT BOOK DESCRIBES ILLITERACY, MALNUTRITION RISE IN C.ASIA: "Children at Risk: Children in the Central Asian Republics of Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan" (A Bauer, N Boschmann, D Green & K Kuehnast 1998 Manilla: Asian Development Bank) explains downward trends in national production, employment, govt. social spending, access to basic education and health care. Wasting acute malnutrition is rising, as "the consumption of protein products, vegetables and fruits has radically decreased."